The long-term future of Brunel’s swing bridge – the Grade II* Listed bridge at the entrance to Bristol docks – has taken a step forward thanks to a new partnership that will build upon the valuable work being undertaken by volunteers working with the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust (AIBT), supported by the Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society and the Clifton and Hotwells Improvements Society.
The AIBT has taken the lead in caring for Brunel’s first wrought iron opening bridge single-handedly in recent years. Now, a new partnership between AIBT and the SS Great Britain Trust will explore ambitions for the bridge’s further conservation and restoration to full working order; and whether a long-term home can be found. The bridge is owned by Bristol City Council who will be part of the future decision-making process.
Matthew Tanner, Chief Executive of the SS Great Britain Trust said:
“The Trust is delighted to announce this partnership with AIBT. This is a great opportunity to support the invaluable commitment of AIBT volunteers, without whose work we would not have a bridge to save. The Trust brings additional conservation expertise and – as a museum and heritage charity which preserves Brunel’s legacy and cares for an accredited national collection – wider visibility and support.”
“First steps in this new partnership will explore, in conjunction with Bristol City Council and Historic England, options for its viable, long-term preservation, with a new study investigating whether an eventual home for the bridge could see it serve as a crossing over the entrance of the Albion Dry Dock, beside the SS Great Britain. The careful relocation would form part of a major capital development by the SS Great Britain Trust, and a collaboration with AIBT to move, preserve and restore operation to the bridge. With this new partnership, we are bringing all the right people together to save Brunel’s swing bridge and give it the visibility it deserves as a significant engineering marvel.”